T.G.I. Friday’s app lets guests pay via smartphone

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The app is called "My Friday's Tab"

T.G.I. Friday’s guests are tapping into the casual-dining chain’s smartphone app and then tabbing out.

Friday’s is the first casual-dining chain to offer a smartphone application that lets guests start a tab from their iPhone or Android, track it on the device and close it out without a waiter. It is part of the app called “My Friday’s Tab.”

“This new app puts the Friday experience at guests’ fingertips — whether they’re looking for the closest Friday’s to celebrate and indulge, or if they want to pay their bar tab quickly,” Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer at Carrollton, Texas-based T.G.I. Friday’s, said in a statement when the app was released in April.

The pay-at-table function is offered at about 300 of Friday’s more than 900 restaurants. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or the Android App Market. The mobile payment function is powered by Austin, Texas-based Tabbedout and was developed by Carlson IT, Illume Mobile and Click Here Inc., a division of Friday’s ad agency, The Richards Group of Dallas. The app technology integrates with Friday’s point-of-sale software without additional hardware, the company said.

T.G.I. Friday’s also recently launched a new website design that provides a mobile-friendly experience for smartphone users.

Nation’s Restaurant News spoke with Trey Hall, Friday’s chief marketing officer, about the pay-at-the-table function and the app.

What was the thinking behind the app?

We have all the functionality that other apps have in terms of the menu and drink selection, how do you get to the restaurant, how you locate. Those are all important parts of the app, and what consumers expect. But we also wanted our app to be unique and different and have a real daily purpose. Paying at the table is one of those things that a lot of people are exploring, whether it be through tablets or other pieces of equipment on the table or other means. … We wanted to give consumers something new and exciting and something very, very useful that they could use every day, so My Friday’s Tab was developed as part of this solution.

What has the response been?

We’re up to 70,000 downloads so far. The technology works really well, and the consumer feedback has been very, very favorable. … It is obviously part of our digital strategy going forward, to enable consumers to use and interact with our brand using mobile devices.

How does a customer use the app at the restaurant?

Before you go in or while you are sitting there, you need to sign up for My Friday’s Tab. You input a credit card [number], and then from there on out you never have to do that again. Once you sign up, you open the tab [and] you are given a five-digit code. You tell the server that you are going to be using My Friday’s Tab, and they’ll go, “Thank you very much. Give me your five-digit code,” and they’ll put that into the POS.

From then on out, as you order and as you interact with the server and add more things to your tab, you’ll see that come right up. You can see how much you are spending and all that great stuff. Then you can close the tab. As you close the tab, you are asked to add a tip. The recommended amount is 18 percent. But because you are at Friday’s and have had such an amazing experience, you want to tip. In fact, that’s happening. The recommended tip is 18 percent, but we’re finding the average tip amount is like 21 percent. It’s great for the servers.

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